Are throws to first to hold the runner a waste of time?
A fast runner is at first and the pitcher keeps throwing over to hold the runner. Sometimes this can get pretty monotonous for us fans, especially after the first couple of throws. Is the pitcher getting anything out of this?
About a decade ago, we examined the issue based on data in the 1990s and found that pickoff throws did make a difference in stolen base success rates. As teams have become more efficient with stolen bases over the past few years, it’s possible that the results have changed.
As it turns out, it still does make a difference. Based on actual data from 2002-09 the stolen base percentage of a runner decreases if at least one throw is made over to first by the pitcher:
|No Throw Made||75%|
|At Least One Throw Made||64%|
In fact, it even makes a difference if he makes more than one throw:
|One Throw Made||66%|
|Two Throws Made||65%|
|Three or More||64%|
Both of these conclusions match what we found last time. If it’s your pitcher making the throws, cheer him on. But if it’s the opposing pitcher, it’s your job as a fan to let him know that you don’t appreciate all those throws!
“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week™, www.statoftheweek.com.”